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War Letters: Introduction to the 1915-16 and 1921 versions of Salter's Letters


Ely, R, War Letters: Introduction to the 1915-16 and 1921 versions of Salter's Letters, At the edge of time: War letters from an Australian private soldier, 1915-1916. With reflections on William Salter's earlier and later life, and command assumptions, Dissenters Press & The Baptist Historical Society of Victoria, R Ely (ed), Melbourne, Australia, pp. xviii-xlviii. ISBN 9780987046017 (2016) [Research Book Chapter]

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The return of the writer of these letters to Australia late in 1916, after severe war injuries, ended his strenuous personal venture in a cause he considered a duty. The letters show that often the prospects of severe injury, lonely pain, and death had been close companions.

Salter's 1921 Preface to his letters, as here presented, reflects what he then wished to disclose or hint at as having been his command assumptions in 1915 and 1916. He indicates, candidly or apparently so, the character of many of the changes he makes to these letters in the latter years. Both most of the original letters and the 1921 revised version happen to survive in the Salter Papers. I hope these papers will eventually be lodged in a safe publicly accessible place, but that decision is not mine to make. Later in this Introduction, admittedly in a very selective way, parts of the two versions will be quoted from and compared. One crucial issue is how far command assumptions of the re-writer are the same as those of the original writer. Five years had passed. How far had his subjective horizons and respective command assumptions changed over those years? We of course know who Salter wrote to in 1915 and 1916. But what potential readers did Salter have in mind in 1921? Implications of the difference will be discussed later.

Item Details

Item Type:Research Book Chapter
Research Division:History, Heritage and Archaeology
Research Group:Historical studies
Research Field:Australian history
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in history, heritage and archaeology
UTAS Author:Ely, R (Dr Richard Ely)
ID Code:120808
Year Published:2016
Deposited By:School of Humanities
Deposited On:2017-08-30
Last Modified:2018-01-23

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